Who said that spinning tackle couldn't handle massive fish? Certainly not this fisherman who recently caught a 597 pound tuna with only a spinning combo.
Captain Dom Petrarca of Coastal Charters Sportfishing in Massachusetts recently joined forces with the other captains in his charter group and landed a bluefin tuna that tipped the scales at 597 pounds.
You might be wondering what the big deal is. The IGFA world record for Bluefin tuna currently stands at 1,496 pounds. So why was this fish so special?
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Well, it was caught on spinning tackle. Even the heaviest of spinning tackle is still considered "light" tackle, especially in the offshore fishing community.
Bluefin tuna are one of the strongest and toughest fish to land even when using conventional heavy saltwater gear. Anglers using that type of gear have the advantage of a harness, fighting seat, and increased leverage as well as gear that was designed specifically for that purpose.
One of the biggest disadvantages for fighting such strong fish with even the heaviest of spinning tackle is that the line enters the water straight down instead of the horizontal direction of more traditional saltwater gear. The angler is almost directly fighting the tuna and all of its impressive strength.
To make the story even more remarkable, just two days prior to the landing of the 597-pound tuna, another Cape Cod area charter captain had landed a 423 pound behemoth which was then thought to be the largest ever caught on spinning tackle.
"Five years ago, nobody would have even believed that you could catch a 200- or 300-pound tuna, let alone a 400- or 500-pound tuna," told Petrarca GrindTV. "But we're proving that with the right methods, you can."
The captains using spinning tackle to target Bluefin tuna use a variety of different tactics to push the odds to their favor. These tactics include employing faster boats to keep up with running fish, targeting tuna in shallower water to prevent deep dives, and having all anglers on the boat take turns reeling.
"There is no way in the world that one angler could land a 400-pound tuna the way we fish," Petrarca said. "It's that difficult. Our anglers get worn out, beat up, and spit out, and then they pass the rod off and wait their turn again."
"Each time we caught up enough to get more than half the line back onto the spool, the fish would surge off in a different direction, as if it didn't even feel the run before. All the while, we were trying to ward off other boats headed toward the direction the fish was running," Petrarca described in his telling of the catch for On The Water.
The fish continued to fight valiantly even when the fisherman managed to get it next to the boat.
"The next 20 minutes were spent getting a tail rope on (not an easy feat with an unhappy monster with two gaffs in its mouth and a dart in its head), a 2nd and a 3rd tail rope, and a flying gaff head attached to a line off the cleat to try to swim the fish to properly dispatch it and bleed it out....it got even angrier and completely straightened out the 8-inch, heavy-duty gaff, almost escaping again when the cleat almost fully dislodged from the side of the boat," Petrarca recounted.
Cape Cod's shallow water makes it one of the few places on earth that giant Bluefin tuna can be caught using these methods. If you want to have a shot at fighting one of these beasts of the deep, get in touch with Coastal Charters Sportfishing or check out their Facebook page.